A Very Short War

The Mayaguez and the Battle of Koh Tang

978-1-60344-196-4 Paperback
6 x 9 x 0 in
268 pp. 21 BW photos. 5 figs. 11 maps. Glossary. Bib. Index.
Pub Date: 02/02/2011


  • Paperback $23.95 s
On May 12, 1975, less than two weeks after the fall of Saigon, Khmer Rouge naval forces seized the S.S. Mayaguez, an American container ship, off the Cambodian coast in the Gulf of Siam. The swift military response ordered by President Gerald Ford was designed to recapture the Mayaguez, held at anchor off the island of Koh Tang, to liberate her crew, and to demonstrate U.S. strength and resolve in the immediate aftermath of America's most humiliating defeat.

Guilmartin, a former air rescue helicopter pilot stationed in Thailand, provides a unique and compelling account of the Mayaguez–Koh Tang crisis, shedding new light on the politics, the tactics, the orders, the high-level decision makers, and the fighting men entangled in a crucial military action that nearly ended in disaster for U.S. forces.

". . . a brilliant and exceptionally clear tactical study that offers a point of departure for broader reflections on the nature of contingency and uncertainty in all military operations."--Foreign Affairs

"This is an exceptional book. . . [Guilmartin's] work transcends the events themselves, illustrating numerous aspects of men in war. His insights and observations are compelling."--Journal of Military History

". . . written with the flair and excitement of an adventure novel. Even those who know the outcome and the lessons of the Mayaguez incident will find this book hard to put down until finished."--Proceedings

Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series

Published by Texas A&M University Press